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Toronto high school teachers brace for layoffs after receiving 'bumping' memo

Last Updated May 29, 2019 at 10:48 pm EDT

Despite a projected increase in enrollment and “attrition” funding from the provincial government, Toronto high school teachers are bracing for layoffs.

A memo from the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) to TDSB teachers obtained by CityNews outlines a “bumping” process that could result in some teachers being declared “surplus to the Board” — essentially, laid off.

This comes as the provincial government has increased average class sizes in high schools and reduced the per student funding schools receive.

Last month, Education Minister Lisa Thompson told boards that with a $1.6 billion attrition protection fund, “it is expected” they will not lay off teachers because of class size and e-learning changes.

However, that fund does not apply to positions outside the classroom, according to TDSB spokesman Ryan Bird.

“When we talk about someone that has been on leave this year or someone who has been working centrally this year, they’re not in a classroom,” said Bird. “Thus that protection funding does not come to the board to cover off those positions.”

With about 90 secondary teachers coming back from leave, and about 65 working centrally, 145 TDSB positions could be on the line.

“Toronto District School Board cannot guarantee that every surplus teachers will have a position at the start of the school year,” said Leslie Wolfe, president of OSSTF District 12.

Bumping from school-to-school typically happens when student enrollment is declining. Wolfe called Wednesday’s move “unprecedented in a time of growing enrollment.”

Meanwhile, Thompson remained adamant that “…not one teacher will lose their job because of our proposed changes.”

“I would suggest that TDSB probably has an opportunity where they can sharpen their pencil,” Thompson said to reporters Wednesday. “We know they’ve mismanaged funds in previous years and the fact of the matter is they have a $3 billion dollar budget and we’re confident they can find one cent on every dollar in savings from within.”

But NDP leader Andrea Horwath doesn’t agree.

“This is a direct result of the funding cuts and increases in class sizes,” said Horwath who called the cuts a disservice to students.

While the TDSB has given notice to teachers that the bumping process is required, Bird says it’s important to note that laid off teachers could still be recalled, “depending on how things unravel over the summer.”

Affected teachers are scheduled to find out their status on June 7th.

Read the full memo below: